Flight Makes Everything Easier?

There is an active poll over on the WoW forums called The Friendly SkiesWhile I question the adjective friendly applied to almost anything MMO, I found the choices available on the poll amusing, even if the associated text is patronizing in tone.

Patch 6.2.2 is scheduled for release this week, allowing those of you who have unlocked Draenor Pathfinder to take to the skies on your most trusted of winged beasts, floating steeds, and flying machines. With this comes the added opportunity for you to handle your affairs with greater convenience and timeliness.

Our friends over at Wowhead have put together a guide of Draenor Content Made Easier by Flying. We suggest you give it a look to glean the myriad activities made more accessible by flight, and let us know what you’ll be swooping down from sky to do first.

Travel by flying mount on Draenor will be most handy for:

1. Accessing Archaeology dig sites

2. Collecting more battle pets

3. Exploration and sightseeing

4. Leveling alts to 100

5. Gathering herbs, mining, or fishing

6. Seeking out rare spawns

7. Adventuring further in Tanaan Jungle

8. Locating the remaining treasures

9. Barrel rolls, duh

10. …Everything

As I’ve said in chat a million times (at least) easy is a four letter word. I have an idea of what an easy fight would be, but I’ve never seen it in any game,

The boss draws his weapon, then trips and falls on it. That would be an easy fight.

Nothing that requires a group effort to achieve is easy. The troll who taunts with “come on, this is easy” deludes himself. Just because he finds his role lacks challenge doesn’t mean that getting 5 to 25 players together to do anything lacks challenge. If you doubt this, see if you can get just 4 people together to play a game of cards at home; without bribing them with free beer, of course.

If you didn’t have a guild in earlier versions of WoW (Original & Burning Crusade specifically) you stood around outside the instance you needed to run and hoped that 4 other people would show up and want to run with you. You could (and did) spend hours standing around hoping for a group. Nine times out of 10 you would give up in frustration. The tenth time you would manage to get a group together only to discover that the tank couldn’t tank, the healer couldn’t heal, and DPS was a joke. About every third group you managed to get into an instance with would actually finish the dungeon.

Forget about ever raiding. Raiding was for guilds; I mean, you could try your hand at assembling a raiding group yourself. I tried it several times, never successfully, because of the next problem on the list.

Then came Looking For Raid/Group and suddenly the impasse of just getting a group together was bypassed; allowing for an automated assembly process as part of the game design. However, finding a group of people who knows what they are doing still remains a challenge. Being able to select the role you want to queue for has no bearing on your knowledge of what the role requires, what your classes gear spec should be, what the best spell rotation is, what to interrupt and when, etc; a near bottomless pit of knowledge that is required just to complete a raid with a moderate level of success.

So Looking For Raid/Group didn’t make the game easier, it made playing the game possible for the average player, which just adds to the frustration of the elitist jerks who think the games should be designed for them.

In much the same fashion as LFR making group efforts possible in game, so too flight makes certain kinds of gameplay possible, not just easier.  Dismissing the constraints of time and frustration with the word easy is patronizing. Some people have real lives to live, they don’t have all day to spend grinding their way through repetitive content just to get to the thing they want to do today.

I am enjoying flight being added back into WoW. Not enjoying it so much I have forgotten the threat on the horizon, though. When it comes to Legion, I am still in the #NoFlyNoBuy camp. I really do hope that Blizzard game developers are taking us seriously.

#NoFlyNoBuy Are You Listening @WarcraftDevs?

Once again the moderators have struck.  I had a pretty decent thread going over on the forums.  This morning at 4am or thereabouts it was 7 pages long.  I had managed to avoid blatantly violating any rules by directly discussing bannings that the moderators have inflicted on me in the past.  Managed not to talk blatantly about any of the rules which govern the boards. Managed to keep myself from fucking cursing every other fucking word, so they couldn’t pretend that bitching was something vulgar this time. I thought this attempt at feedback was going swimmingly until I logged on this afternoon to see if anything else had posted.

Not only had nothing else posted, but the entire thread had disappeared into a black hole, like every other thread I’ve started on Blizzard’s forums. No matter how many times Blizzard’s customer service representatives in-game assure me that the developers want to hear from you, go post on the forums I know from experience that the opposite is true.  They really don’t want to hear from me.

I’m generally well-school in dancing around the sensitivities of others. Just last week I managed to piss of the acting Guild Master of my now-former Horde raiding guild (Crimson Retribution – Terenas) because I dared to suggest that not only was he wrong about flight always being a perk in World of Warcraft , but that if his training as a systems administrator instructed him that all hackers are criminals (right after he had called me a criminal for rooting my cellphone) I didn’t think much of the value of his education.

Funny part of that was that he stopped talking to me because I insulted his education.  The dust-up wasn’t over his accusation that I was a criminal.  No, that insult to me was completely overlooked. His tender feelings were hurt. So I left the guild, because that is what happens when those with lesser authority have a disagreement with higher authorities.  You move on.  It is not a threat, it is what reasonable people do.

Similarly, there is no winning when the entire structure of a company wants to silence what you have to say, when the only place you can say it is on their forums and have it reach an audience. If you read over the Blizzard forum guidelines it should become painfully clear that any subject that isn’t praise for Blizzard and World of Warcraft generically will not live very long on their forums. They have (like so many other forums on the internet) created an echo-chamber for self-congratulation.

…and why not? I mean, Blizzard has created what is inarguably the most popular game in all the history of electronic gaming. World of Warcraft (or WoW) still boasts subscriptions that are North of five million, which is a number that nearly any other gaming company would give their firstborn children to have access to.  Never mind that at its peak WoW  boasted a subscriber base of over twelve million people, or that the release of Warlords of Draenor did not lift subscriber numbers from their slow downward slide for longer than a month or two.

They have a certified hit, a cash cow. But how to keep milking that cow without killing it? That really is a tricky question, the multi-million dollar question that speaks to the future of the company. I mean, Blizzard isn’t alone out there. Some would say that they aren’t even at the forefront of gaming any longer.

My children only play Blizzard games because I play them. Left to their own devices, they like their Steam games, playing any number of them for pretty much as long as we allow them to play (him anyway, and only for a few years more) when the daughter heard that Legion would be the next expansion for World of Warcraft her only request was that I get her one of the art books.  The game? Well, if you are playing dad, sure.

Steam has tapped into something that only Facebook is doing better at; and that because it doesn’t require any real talent to be on Facebook. You just have to have the connection and you can share memes till the end of time, play flash games till you die of repetition.  Facebook is to the internet was TV was to broadcast. Radio was informative and entertaining, TV had pictures!

I can’t explain what it is that Steam offers.  I haven’t been impressed with many of the games. I’m certainly not impressed with their business tactics involving the children that make up a majority of their player base (I’ve mentioned this before) But they have a loyal following, and Blizzard has noticed this, which is why they introduced Battle.net and its launcher.

Battle.net is a pale comparison to Steam and it’s myriad of indepedent developers, though. Blizzard is now facing the same kind of broad-based competition that Microsoft laughed at when Linux was introduced.  Microsoft is no longer laughing now that Android (also Linux/Unix) runs on more systems than their software; similarly, Blizzard (or more accurately Activision/Blizzard) cannot long outpace a group which can essentially grow to incorporate all programmers who don’t work for them.

I had several players insist to me that Blizzard would stop WoW at level 100 for in-game characters, back in the days when I was writing about Cataclysm and its failings. I knew then just as I know now that there won’t be an end to World of Warcraft so long as Blizzard continues to see a profit. With the announcement of Legion and its 110 level cap, the notion that World of Warcraft might stop anytime soon has been left in the dust.

With new content needed, and the demands of the players for more and more challenging content to master, WoW programmers have a serious problem on their hands.  How to keep the players challenged?  How to make programming goals achievable in the foreshortened time that Activision was allowing for game development?  The developers, after seeing the new subscriptions and interest in WoD declared that they would exclude flight in all future expansions of WoW, reneging on their promise to introduce flight to the new content as this blue post goes into.

There’s a lot of discussion about flying/not-flying and I’d like to try to sum things up and maybe realign the discussion a bit. Some of the other threads are near-cap, some have really gone down tangents, so I’m just picking this one to throw a reply into. Apologies to the other threads.

Flying trivializes combat. A lot of people like to say we’re trying to force world PvP, or that we just really want people to look at the pretty trees we made, but those really aren’t the reasons that drive this same decision we’ve made every expansion. Flying allows you to escape or enter combat at-will. There’s a reason why flying isn’t allowed in dungeons and raids, or battlegrounds and arenas, and that’s because it would trivialize the core mechanic of the game in those areas – combat. For much the same reason it trivializes how content is approached in the outdoor world based on the simple fact that you can lift off and set down wherever you like.

So that’s the main reason. But sure there are a lot of other problems it can cause for content design such as zones having to get a lot bigger because flying mounts can travel so quickly (and thus making ground travel in them take much longer), it reduces the impact of elevation within zones, it completely removes the ability for us to pace or present content in any structured way, and in general removes our ability to determine how and when players approach a situation, see a vista or location, or charge into/out-of a combat situation. It just greatly reduces any gameplay we want to create by allowing infinite choice in how content is approached to best suit a player’s intention to (usually) avoid that content.

I totally sympathize with people’s desire to do that, they want to be efficient and have it be their choice, but we have to balance our intent to create a game against creating a sandbox where anything goes. There’s a happy medium there somewhere, but flying mounts in most cases just do too much to undermine too many of our core intentions with the game world, the basis of the game: combat, or guiding players through a game experience, and for those reasons we have continually chosen (when we could) to disallow flying mounts in the ‘current’ outdoor content. In the past that’s meant only while leveling, but in our experiences with the Isle of Thunder and Timeless Isle we feel like we can extend that for a bit longer in the new content, and have it be kind of a big deal again once you’re able to earn flying in the first big content patch, and in the meantime putting focus on flight paths as well as having some more interesting travel options for players to use.

I liked Timeless Isle, despite the lack of flight.  On the other hand I despised the Isle of Thunder and the clearly contrived lack of flight in that area.  Why not allow players to attempt to fly? Perhaps the more clever could have figured out how to make it work, that’s why (more on that in a bit) given the success of Pandaria, the increased subs for WoD, the developers thought that they had a solution to their problem of too little time/too much programming.

Not so fast, though.

The player base is now abandoning WoD in droves. It is boring, being limited to ground travel. Being restricted to a very limited quest chain (which is allowed by making sure that players go where you want them) Once again the developers reverse direction and work in a gated introduction of flight into WoD.  Players who got a secret pleasure out of denying flight to players who wanted to fly were outraged.  The developers have to recalculate programming requirements for content that will now have to include flight. Things are not looking good for Blizzard.

The sad part of all this is that the same developers are still beating the same dead horse that was the established lore for Warcraft more than a decade ago, and trying to draw out the final few dollars they can milk from this story before it stops being profitable.  They could re-invent parts of the game as they did with professions in the current expansion (much to their detriment in this player’s opinion) but that carries risk, and large companies are nothing if not risk-averse. (I offer Overwatch as an example of this; a pretty game but essentially a rehash of Team Fortress 2. Not that there isn’t room for more of the same kinds of games)

Risk adverse developers throttle player content, rather than expand playability.  Warlords delivered this in spades, extending the amount of work and time spent in the game to achieve even less than you could do in previous versions of WoW.  Only now, after the announcement of the next expansion, do they finally grudgingly give players the last piece of playability we had in previous versions of the game.  The next patch will finally give the players the ability to fly in Draenor, the ability to use the mounts all of us have paid for with time, effort and real money.  Finally fulfilling the implied contract when they sold us flying mounts a year and more ago.  Those mounts will finally fly.

But is it too little too late?  Speaking for myself, it might be. I’m thoroughly burned out now.  Try as I might, there just isn’t enough content in the game to keep me interested; or rather, there doesn’t appear to be any one type of play that the current game encourages aside from the narrow channel of developer intent to progress through the garrisons and outposts. Without flight, exploration, pet battling, archeology, etc all become tedious slogs through NPC’s you’ve already killed repeatedly.  Giving me flight now just reminds me how much of the game I liked in Pandaria that I’m already too far behind on to catch up now.

Which is why this article starts and ends with a hashtag. I’m not even going to contemplate playing WoW after the next expansion releases unless the developers include flight in the game from the beginning. Not just flight, but flight for all levels (as it was in Wrath of the Lich King at least) available at the time the expansion releases.

I’m done with being throttled, of playing Activision‘s version of a Blizzard game that reminds me more of Facebook games than it does of the MMO’s and RTS’ of previous years. Most of all, give me the sky to fly in, or I’ll find some other game to play in the future. #NOFLYNOBUY

I don’t care, I’m still free, you can’t take the sky from me

Sonny Rhodes

I started another thread on the forums with this title that references the Confirmation Bias post.

Flight Has Always Been a Perk; An Example of Confirmation Bias

I love the way the brain works. I want that out front on this post. I’m fascinated by the ways that we humans craft our thoughts and feelings, while at the same time seem to be completely unaware that most of the facts we think are immutable are actually just feelings that we have emotional investment in.

The whole argument about flight in World of Warcraft that is currently swirling in game conversations across the internet is an excellent example of this completely human tendency.  For those people who think flight has ruined the game, a group filled mostly with game developers and troglodytes (my own confirmation bias) they point to game history and assert that

Flight has always been a perk. You always have had to pay for it.

While the cost of flight was quite steep when introduced in Burning Crusade, the first expansion of World of Warcraft,  in Wrath of the Lich King it was available at level 68 for a nominal fee for the Tome of Cold Weather Flight. Only your first game character had to slog to get to level 77 before flying, and then it was flying for the last three levels. The game was designed to incorporate flight into the mechanics in a rough approximation of the way I thought it should be, and the way I thought the game was going to progress into the future. In Cataclysm you could fly for the entire expansion, once again for a very nominal fee (about 300 gold) and even the dead could fly from graveyards to wherever you died last, a change that was made for Wrath of the Lich King in areas set up for flight play.

While I had a lot of complaints about Cataclysm, flight was one of the things I really liked about it. It wasn’t quite ideal, I couldn’t fly and fight or even ride and fight, but at least I could use the flight mechanic I had already paid so much for in Burning Crusade.  Flight is just another form of travel, no different than the riding mounts allowed in later levels of the original game.  Not too many players remember having to slog to level 40 on foot.  These days you can obtain riding skills and mounts at level 20, with fast ground mounted speed available at level 40 instead of the endgame perk that it used to be.

Imagine the complaints, if you can. What if the game developers removed the ability to ride mounts at all in the game? Riding is a perk, after all.  You have to earn your mounts, all of them, with each expansion of the game. How many people would willingly keep paying for and playing that game?  Not too many, in my estimation.

Then came Mists of Pandaria, and it was the reverse of Cataclysm. The rest of the game was engaging, but the fact that none of my characters could fly until the repetition of endgame made the entire game into a grinding endurance slog that I repeated 22 times through some crazy goals I had set myself 5 years previously. Not to mention the hair-brained idea of gating cloud serpent flying and requiring every single character you leveled in the game to have to grind that reputation in order to use those mounts; only to have that reputation grind removed as a requirement for the current expansion.  Imagine the frustration of those players who spent days working on that reputation for all their characters, only to have the work rendered pointless later.

I almost didn’t purchase Warlords of Draenor because of the announcement that flight wouldn’t be included. After I thought about it for awhile I figured that they would add flight at some point, otherwise the inclusion of a flying mount in the collector’s edition becomes false advertising. Bait and switch.

Now it is revealed that through game developers misjudging what the player base would put up with, they’re going to gate flight (if it is ever introduced at all, they still aren’t promising anything) with a long, long grind requiring you to play through all the content of Warlords of Draenor and the soon to be released patch 6.2 in order to qualify to use basic mechanics of the game that should have been included with the first release.

I say should have been included with the full understanding of what that means. Flight is a travel mechanic, just like a riding mount is a travel mechanic.  Before earning riding mounts in the game, you never understood what a time savings was involved in being allowed to ride. Once you have riding mounts, you’ll ride them right into buildings if allowed to, never dismounting unless the headers of the doors keep you from getting through them while mounted. In a similar fashion, a player never thought about why they had to navigate the terrain (alive or in spirit form) you just did that.

Now that flight is being withheld arbitrarily from players who are used to flying, the fact that a developer stuck an impasse between where you are and where you need to be becomes a major frustration specifically because you know that they keep you from flying just to slow down progress in the game.  No other reason, they just want you to spend more time working on game progress.

The idea that this increases immersion in the game, or makes the game more challenging are just excuses presented to mollify complaints.  They could include flight and make it more challenging. In Burning Crusade you could be knocked off your flying mount. While this was frustrating it was no more frustrating than currently being knocked off your riding mount by a frog or a flower (Which happens. Flowers can kill you in World of Warcraft) in Mists of Pandaria there was one area that allowed flight, but that flight could be canceled by crashing into an insect swarm.  It is only unimpeded flight, the status of flight as an endgame perk, invisible to everything but other players, that breaks immersion; makes the game too easy.

Gating flight is not giving the players what they want. It is holding the last remaining carrot out as bait to get us to continue playing (and paying for) the game. The manipulation is so transparent as to be insulting.  Taking a stance that flight should be removed permanently from the game so many years after it was introduced is so foreign a concept as to make me question the honesty of people who say they don’t want to fly.

What game have you been playing these past 7 years?  Not the same one I have, apparently.

(Deleted from the WoW forums once again, inspiring the current piece on the blog)

Banned From the Forums, Again. Don’t Mention Community Policing?

Blizzard (specifically Battle.net) has banned me from the forums again  This is the amusing part, pay attention.  I was banned from the forums for daring to link to my response to being banned from the forums previously.  Apparently Blizzard still isn’t interested in complaints in spite of their insistence that they are.

The real problem appears to be that they have a bad (as in faulty) language parser.  It’s not surprising, it’s actually the parser that got me banned the first time.  I was trying to illustrate how crappy their language parser was, and if I go into why the parser is broken/crappy/should be scrapped in this post, I won’t be able to link this post in the future if I forget that I poked fun at the parser here. It’s also worth noting that it only parses on new threads. It takes a flag from a user to get the bots attention on replies. (there’s no point in being cute here. More after the break. However, the next sentence remains true.)

The fix to this problem is simple. Don’t let your bots ban people. But that leads to another problem, Blizzard can’t afford to hire enough cops to police the communities they’ve created. The hypocrisy of Blizzard banning players for botting while using bots to ban people is apparently lost on the leadership at Blizzard.

Not that I bot, Blizzard. Don’t want to be banned for linking to an article that has the word bot in it. If they continue using the same stupid parser, that is liable to happen.

The solution to this problem, and many other problems, is a ratings system for the player/contributor base. Let the massive player/user community police itself. This isn’t even rocket science, a ratings system has been put in place in many other large online communities, and generally meets with some level of success based on how well the tools are implemented.  Whether there is oversight to come to the rescue of the scapegoated, for example.  Whether the tools are allowed to have an effect on the employees of the hosting company, for another.

I’ve mentioned community policing tools many times in the past. (including the last time I tried to start a thread on this subject by linking previous mentions of the subject. Don’t do that blindly.  The phrase “please sir may a have another” springs immediately to mind) Mentioned it at the end of the previous expansion pack. Mentioned it during the Cataclysm expansion. Mentioned it during Wrath of the Lich King while interacting with the GM’s. I don’t think I even understood how many people were playing the game while I was still playing Burning Crusade. If I did, I’m sure I mentioned it then too.

Because it is a glaring oversight on the part of online game developers, generally.  The understanding that large communities require policing, and that the best police are recruited from among the players; people willing to file reports, click buttons, whatever the tools in place allow.  Those are the game companies’ allies, and it is about time that the companies understood that they are shooting themselves in the foot by not allowing the communities to police themselves, and providing the tools for us to do it.

(The permissible last three paragraphs of this post have been restored to the forums here)


Won’t actually be able to link it anyway. Can’t discuss bans in any fashion on the forums. Not even tangentially. Can’t really discuss ANYTHING on the forums and not risk being banned if the mood strikes a moderator.

The real problem here is (not that Blizzard mods will read this) that the rules for the forums are not all in one place. The bot that banned my account sent me links to this page. It also linked this dead page for appeals (all the links for appeals are dead) The customer service interactions all refer to this page, and the forum rules are also stickied at the top of each forum.

None of the content of any of the pages agrees with each other as to what is allowed or not allowed aside from the notation that they reserve the right to suspend any account without reason.  Just another reason not to post on the forums.

Suggestions for Blizzard

I’m still playing Warlords of Draenor.  Not sure why beyond the fact that I can play for free now thanks to being able to purchase game time with in-game currency. Now that it doesn’t cost anything beyond time I was already spending in the game, the argument about paying for the game goes out the window.

Still, I’m not happy with it, since none of the complaints I’ve aired previously have lead to changes in the game. The professions are still cludgy and largely useless, my favorite class/specialization from Mists of Pandaria remains almost unplayable (more on that after the break) my toons all look different rather than simply more clearly rendered. Most importantly, I still can’t fly!

Noticed a post on my Twitter feed about a developer announcement concerning the addition of flight to Warlords of Draenor;

In an upcoming Public Test Realm build, we will be introducing a new meta-achievement called Draenor Pathfinder. You’ll earn this achievement in Patch 6.2 by mastering the outdoor environment of Draenor—exploring Draenor’s zones, collecting 100 treasures in Draenor, completing the Draenor Loremaster and Securing Draenor achievements, and raising the three new Tanaan Jungle reputations to Revered. Initially, this achievement will award a rylak mount: the Soaring Skyterror, one of the native beasts that roam Draenor’s skies. Players will remain ground-bound on Draenor until a small follow-up patch (6.2.x), when all players who have earned Draenor Pathfinder on at least one character will unlock the ability to fly in Draenor on all their level 90+ characters.

We believe this strikes the right balance between ensuring ground-based content lives up to its full potential, while providing players who’ve already fully experienced Draenor’s outdoor world extra freedom to “break the rules.” This also provides a general blueprint going forward for content to come. Players will explore new and undiscovered lands from the ground, and then once they’ve fully mastered those environments—a notion that continues to evolve with each new expansion—they can take to the skies and experience the world from a new vantage point.

The blog post that I found the developer link in was ecstatic (to put it mildly) about the developers finally relenting and allowing flight in Warlords of Draenor, but my response to the announcement is a bit more tepid, if not outright QQ or open rebellion.

I already paid for flight.  Multiple times. I’ve already earned flight, multiple times. Flight should not be an endgame perk. That’s it, that’s all I have to say. I should be able to fly all the time on all my characters because flight is part of the game, not an endgame perk.  Not interested in playing a game that excludes flight. Flight was my goal from the moment I started playing in Burning Crusade and I resent having it taken from me each and every time a new version of the game comes out.

If that’s the way this game is going to be into the future then I really don’t have any interest in playing it any longer.

In Burning Crusade there was always the possibility of being attacked and killed while in flight, even though it was an endgame achievement in that expansion, flying was not without risk. You learned this with multiple deaths and frustrating runs back to your corpse. Frustrating runs are the problem in any game composed of impassable terrain, whether alive or dead as a character.  Limiting travel to the ground does not make ground travel any more enjoyable if there isn’t a direct route from questgiver to goal and back again.

Ghosts fly. Why can’t my ghost fly in game? Why force negotiation of terrain when you are dead and have no mass, no reason to be held to the ground at all? My ghosts could fly in Cataclysm, so could all my toons fly, fly for the entire length of that expansion. One of the few (very few) things I liked about Cataclysm. But that is beside the point.

The best thing about the Nagrand zone in Warlords of Draenor is having the corral and being able to fight while mounted. Combine the corral with flight through all of Draenor, and you have the ideal playstyle for the game I thought Blizzard was working towards way back when I started playing. The playstyle I envisioned? Battle while mounted and in flight.  There was even a quest in Burning Crusade, a repeatable daily, that required you to ride and do battle on a flying mount. On your regular flying mounts, not some silly vehicle interface as was added into the game in later expansions.

I really don’t care that some people don’t want to fly, or that the programmers or developers don’t want to develop a game that includes flight.  I’m not interested in a game that reserves flight to some endgame travel perk that isn’t part of the game’s regular mechanics. If that is the game they are intent on developing, then I’ve been playing the wrong game for all these years.

Would have been nice to know that sooner.

I am most definitely not interested in another long, long, looong grind to gain three reputations, completing all the quest content and finding 100 treasures in the game just to be able to use the mounts I purchased for this game in regions added to this game. If they weren’t going to allow people to fly from the beginning and are only now adding flight back in, why are they making flying mounts for this game?

If players really don’t want to fly, why do they buy flying mounts?  It certainly isn’t because they look good running.  Give us flight and stop toying with us.  Stop expecting us to spend more and more time in the game grinding just to be able to do the most basic things in the game. It’s silly and self-defeating.  I have no idea how anyone who has a life outside of WoW can even play the game as it is currently structured.  It takes days of work just to get basic stuff done on one toon. More time for this one game than most people are willing to invest, in my experience. The problem is not that this game is too easy or that the rewards are just handed out. The problem is very much the reverse.


What I’ve started to notice is there is an adversarial relationship in place between the employees at Blizzard and the customers that play their games.  This is quite obvious when you look at the amount of work required just to be able to get errors in the program reported, much less fixed.

At least there is a suggestion box and a bug report form in the game now. Why an online game wouldn’t have had this kind of feature from the beginning of the game rather than introduced many years down the road is just another example of Blizzard not actually being interested in feedback from the player community.

If Blizzard was smart they’d give gold out like candy. Gold for tickets opened.  Gold for suggestions. Gold for bugs reported. Gold for every complaint. Nothing soothes the soul like free stuff, and the best free stuff is currency you can use to buy other stuff in the game, from a developers perspective. But they don’t do that. What they do is punish players like yours truly for offering suggestions, pointing out bugs, agitating for change.

As it stands right now I am not allowed to reopen my own tickets because apparently I’m a nuisance player and don’t like hand waving explanations that really don’t explain anything. So after I reopened a ticket about a dozen times, I find myself suddenly unable to do that and Blizzard’s customer service blithely ignoring my questions about why my tickets cannot be reopened. I’m treated in this fashion for pointing out bugs in the game, rather than being rewarded for bringing their attention to something that isn’t working correctly.

I still haven’t seen the Hearthstone decks that the last bug I stumbled across cost me. Was not rewarded in any fashion for reporting the bug, documenting the bug, reporting the bug fixed.  That took real time and was the main reason I ended up abandoning the Hearthstone tournament I was in at the time.  Can’t win if you can’t get new cards.  Effort should be rewarded, even if that effort isn’t directly in-game. We all are not just happy to be here.  Some of us like a bit more appreciation for our participation than that.


I now have no less than 4 claw weapons for my Orc Shaman.  This is odd, because my Shaman has never used claw weapons, fist weapons, etc; because my shaman utilizes the correct specialization, elemental.  I know that the enhancement Shaman are convinced that their superior DPS means that enhancement is the only way to go, but mace and shield are the weapons for my shaman who is first and foremost a spell caster, so the melee loving enhancement shaman can go melee somewhere else.

Except that Blizzard broke elemental specialization in Warlords of Draenor. They made lightning bolt another spell that can only be cast while standing still, just like all other casters must stand still while casting. But not only must I stand still to cast all my spells unless activating spiritwalker’s grace in advance, the weights of the different spells have all be altered, making it virtually impossible to be effective in a fight while in elemental spec.

The game knows this.  When my poor shaman is granted one of the rare rewards of epic weapons, inevitably the weapon that is handed to her is one for healing or enhancement. Only once has she won a shield and a mace in the entire length of Warlords of Draenor.  She has gotten many, many times that number of fist weapons and staves, more than I can count.   So it is clear that Blizzard wants me to change to enhancement specialization just like all the other shaman I meet.

I could elaborate, in detail, what I’d like Blizzard developers to do with these claw weapons. Could elaborate in graphic, bloody, disemboweling detail, before I’d be willing to even contemplate changing to enhanced specialization.  Or Blizzard could just fix the elemental specialization. Maybe make all casters able to cast and move in the process, since they’ve decided that standing in one place and casting spells is too easy.

Every single fight in this game requires constant movement to avoid ground effects and insta-kill blows. Spell casters still have to stand and cast for several seconds at a time leaving them vulnerable to all kinds of damage if they want to actually do any damage themselves.  Why is this true of casters and not melee?  There is no answer for this aside from that is the way it has always been. Seems to me that magic is, ya-know, magic as in, not actually governed by any hard and fast rules.  So let casters move and cast all the time, or stop making every fight a Charlie Foxtrot of multiple effects and threats that can only be survived by running like hell constantly.


The problem with most expansions I’ve ever played for any game is that the developers run out of ideas for new things they can do with the game.  It’s understandable, especially in a game that is more than 10 years old and has required the developers to reinvent the game every two years or so.

But there is a distinct difference between doing something new and relabeling something old and calling it new.

Case in point, the new stats on characters introduced with Warlords of Draenor are just previously existing stats relabeled as other things. This doesn’t mean that the stats are weighted the same and that if you just know what the old label was you can apply the old weights to the new.  No, they did more work than that, but just barely.

What I’m saying is that they reshuffled the stat weights and renamed a few of them just to force the old players to relearn playstyles, stats and spell rotations rather than actually doing something different with the game. Different as in, say, letting us fight while mounted.  Attack opponents from the back of a fire-breathing dragon, perhaps.

I may be flight obsessed; but in my defense, I do know what I like.

(Posted in part on the World of Warcraft forum here. Don’t hold your breath on it still being there.  I have a track record with the moderators there)

Blizzard, Hearthstone and Programming Errors

I’ve been in a fight with Blizzard for about two weeks concerning whether I have a bug in Hearthstone or not. Here’s the video I posted on Youtube;

My first video posted anywhere on the internet.  It sucks, I know. Taken on a HTC Evo shift that is 5 years old, and I don’t have the steadiest hands on the planet. You know which orifice you can access if you have a problem with it.

I’m in the Hearthstone tournament as an amateur (consistently loosing but it is fun) I’m disabled and live on a fixed income. I don’t have cash to buy cards with, I do this for fun.  The only way I can earn new cards is by completing daily quests in the game and using the gold rewards to buy new decks. Except I can’t complete quests. Haven’t been able to for over a week now.  This bug has cost me several decks of cards at the time of this writing, possibly skewing the outcome of my tournament games. I mean, I do loose pretty consistently, but if the cards are in decks randomly, who is to know what cards I might have gotten or been able to make?

Playing on a system running Windows 7 (still) Playing in casual mode. Checked today (4/20) quests advanced in ranked play, still not advancing in casual. Seriously Blizzard, this isn’t a hard programming glitch to fix. Should have been done within hours, certainly shouldn’t have taken longer than a day. Been more than a week now.

I maintain that they owe me these card decks, and their response is that I’m just a stupid player who doesn’t know what part of the game he’s playing, since not all parts of the game give quest progress.  For the record, I figured that out about two days after I installed the game and I’ve been playing for several months.  Started playing sometime in beta before there even were solo games to play and earn cards. So I know my way around the game, just to be clear.

If anyone is wondering, I don’t play ranked play over level 20; and I hit level 20 about 5 days into this months season, so it’s been awhile since I switched over to casual.  If this is another one of those undocumented changes, and Blizzard wants us all to now play ranked all the time, the quests should probably say that. Not that I will play ranked all the time, I’ll simply stop playing.  Not really interested in the more cutthroat play that you get in ranked play.

In my back and forth with the CS department at Blizzard, I’ve also discovered that their website has a basic flaw in it’s programming. The “I still have a problem” button on ticket responses disappears when clicked.  I have to start new tickets in order to respond to the previous unsatisfactory answer to a ticket they deem answered. I’ve tried this on multiple systems, in multiple browsers. Always disappears. Like the Hearthstone bug, it must be my login if it isn’t common across all players and installs of the game. It’s my breath isn’t it? Not sure how they smell it all the way over at Blizzard headquarters, but I’m at a loss to explain this any other way.

This is on top of my suspicion that there is at least one active hack that is pretty common in this game, which I also mention in the video.  My tournament opponent last week was a prime example of this modification to the game. His initial deal was perfect for all three of his wins. Not only was that perfect, but he just happened to draw the perfect counter for every card that I played. Through three games. For a total of about 25 turns. The chances of this happening randomly approach the astronomical.

As the video shows, I can dispatch my opponents pretty handily when the luck of the draw runs my way. Or when my opponent obligingly concedes when the game goes against him.

So, to summarize, I don’t really think the problem is PEBKAC in this instance, even though it generally is. I’m not convinced that Blizzard programmers can find their asses with both hands, in the programming sense. I mean, if you can’t keep your website buttons from disappearing, what can you do programming-wise?

I can say one thing for certain.  My script is canceled for World of Warcraft as of two days ago. I’m done paying for games that I find inadequate in programming.

Posted to the Hearthstone forums here.


The early morning maintenance on 4/21/15 appears to have patched the problem. Given the amount of time the patch took, I figure Blizzard owes me at least 4 decks of cards or 400 gold.  Not holding my breath on ever getting my satisfaction out of Blizzard on that score.

Feeling a bit conflicted on the whole subject. My sense of justice is offended by games that blatantly break their own internal rules. Effort that is not rewarded offends me greatly. If I wanted to have my efforts taken advantage of, I’d waste my time working in the real world, not screwing around in a game.

When I try looking at the amount of time and energy I’ve spent arguing on this issue from the outside, I have to wonder at my own sanity. Why am I still playing Blizzard games, if I’m this annoyed by their behavior?

That is a very good question.

Warlords of Draenor Fails to Hold Interest

This player has had a rocky relationship with World of Warcraft almost since the day I first started playing.  I really never understood what the hell was going on until I was well into Wrath of the Lich King, an expansion that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I found myself able to live within the restrictions the game placed on me in that version of the game, without feeling like I was artificially constrained.

Then there was Cataclysm.  That was where the love/hate relationship I had with the game really came to light.  Starting with the changes to healing that the developers first introduced and then abandoned almost immediately, and progressing through most of that expansion pack the time wasting nature of most of the effort involved in the game which came to be summarized with the word Murglesnout.  I almost canceled my script during that expansion pack, and I only stayed because I really wanted to finish my long quest, something I have finally done.

Through all of Cataclysm there was one thing I actually liked; I could fly (there were a few other things as well, but)  I could fly all the time, everywhere. Well I couldn’t fly in the world PvP areas, but then PvP is my least favorite part of the game and don’t even level toons on PvP servers.  But I could fly everywhere else in the game, and that suited me fine.

Then came Mists of Pandaria. Once again, like at the beginning of Wrath of Lich King, the artificial limitation of required ground movement was imposed on the players, and this time that limitation wasn’t lifted for alternate characters on the same account, making the grind of leveling characters a grind in truth.  At least flight was allowed for endgame characters, so I could purchase flight capability for all 22 of my toons by the end of that expansion.

When Warlords of Draenor was announced, I started hearing some troubling rumblings on the forums. Rumors that the developers might not include flight in this expansion pack, not even for endgame characters. As far as I was concerned, this was completely the wrong direction for game development, and I took to the forums again with a few choice posts;

Allow Flight in WoD From the Beginning (this link leads nowhere. Fair warning)

For my nickel, I consider it poor programming to continue to ground flying mounts just because the programmers can’t figure out how to make flying available without removing the challenge of the game.  As it is I don’t see the point in paying for faster flight (ever) since I won’t be allowed to fly at all until Blizzard decides we’ve paid them long enough to make it worth their while to give flight back to us.

It’s simple enough to knock players off of riding mounts, I don’t see the problem with knocking them off flying mounts, aside from the same frustration that is incurred from allowing players to be knocked off mounts at all. Either you have to fly so high you can’t see the terrain, or you dive low enough to risk being knocked off by whatever. It’s a game. Rez and run, it isn’t painful. 

Funny thing; I remember when this used to happen in Outland. Rather than complain to GM’s about my own stupidity at flying where I shouldn’t be, I learned to pay attention to where I was on the map so as to avoid being dismounted. Problem solved, all it takes is not being stupid. 

Same case here. I get that it’s a pain to have to fight when dismounted, or die when dismounted in the air if you can’t damage mitigate. Now I could whine and cry about it and demand they make the game easier and thusly be bored sooner, or I could stick to my original suggestion that they not cripple the game by disabling functions that I see as an essential part of gameplay.

What I’d like is for the developers to treat flying as part of the game experience and not a perk to be handed out to endgame players. 

What I want is for them to finally embrace the fact that flying is part of WoW and stop pretending we have to plod in order to be immersed (whatever that is. Covered in flies, mud and sweat?) in the game world. The most annoying part of play in Mists of Pandaria was seeing areas that I could not get to because perfectly usable flying mounts were not allowed to be used until reaching 90 because someone was convinced the game was more fun seen from the ground. It’s grindy-er and more boring that way, not more fun.

 None of this content still exists on the forums.  Tons and tons of feedback that could have profited the game developers was deleted carte blanche by the forum moderators in vain attempts to mute complaints by disgruntled beta players.  Players like Jandarus who posted the following;

You *can* design a world where flying is an option. It’s more complex, more expensive, but Blizzard have both the time and the funding to do it. They *choose* not to, because the fastest and easiest route for them is to simply disable flying.

Imagine a tower with an objective inside. Players on ground mounts ride up to the doors and fight their way through the rooms in order. Stealthy players get the option to evade the mobs, but have challenges around timing of patrols and mobs that can detect stealthed players. Flyers get to fly in to the top floor and fight a different set of mobs to the objective. Maybe with anti-flyer guns on the way.

But the expansion rolled out just as it was presented in the beta version, including the highly inadequate improvements to my characters that I documented during the beta.  I did eventually find acceptable new faces for most of my toons, however the cosmetic problems with the game are far outweighed by the other structural changes to the game.

Don’t get me wrong.  I really wanted to like this version of the game.  Being essentially a retcon of content first imagined in the expansion for Warcraft II, Warlords of Draenor goes into more depth than was ever possible given the limitations of the far more primitive computer systems available in the mid-90’s, and the constraints of a strictly RTS game.  It really is engaging gameplay, and the changes to the various classes all seem to be pretty well balanced and streamline spell usage and rotations.

However, they’ve broken professions in their attempts to simplify gameplay.  None of the professions offer perks for having them unless you are into rare mounts.  Since you are limited to three crafted items equipped at the same time, maintaining professions that were useful for gearing in past expansions is pointless.  I now have upwards of nine Engineers in game, since engineering provides repair and resupply NPC’s as part of the profession.  It is really the only profession worth pursuing any longer in a general sense.

Don’t even get me started when it comes to the fresh hell that they’ve turned Cooking, Fishing and First Aid into.  First off, you can’t just go and learn new cooking recopies, you have to taste them or cook something else to get them (randomly) so forget just cooking things you need.  But let’s say you decide you want to fish and then cook that. That’s a funny thought, really. I learned cooking while fishing with most of my original toons. Now you can’t cook fish; or rather, you can’t cook them until you clean them, and you can’t clean just one. No, you have to catch 5, 10 or 20 fish of a particular size and type, and then you can clean that pile of fish.  Then you have to hope you have a recipe for them (if it’s Saberfish you will) and then you can cook those fish. Some fish turn into first aid items so you’ll need those fish to level that secondary prof, which is actually more useful if more maddening. Why maddening?  Because you can’t just make bandaids as you did in all other versions of the game. No, you need to catch those fish and make them into healing tonic to level. Never mind there really isn’t cloth drops any longer, now it’s a fur from beasts but I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole just now.

Suffice it to say that my pastime for 6 years, fishing is something I just don’t do any longer.  Which is too bad because there are some really nice rare drops if you have the infinite patience required to find them.

The one good thing about professions is that the rest of them are so useless now, Archaeology is almost interesting by contrast.  So there is that bright shining moment to enjoy. The only reason to play multiple toons (characters) now is to test the various classes and playstyles. Not really motivation enough for me.

The garrison was another facet of the game that the developers pinned a lot of hopes on. That too seems to have backfired.  There is now no reason to ever leave your garrison. Most players never do except to get into group efforts, which returns you directly back to your garrison as soon as the group event is done. The garrisons themselves are entertaining for awhile. Some of the buildings (especially the engineering building that gives you a perk each day) are quite fun to to fiddle with and give valuable gear for you and your followers.

…Followers being one of the more puzzling introductions to this game, almost as if it wants to be an RTS like it’s original version was. I just don’t understand their purpose in the game, but it is entertaining sending them all out on quests then running out of your HQ to watch them all file out the gates and play the game for you.

The first official patch (6.1) for this expansion went live Feb 24, 2015.  As of this writing, I had yet to really log on and do anything beyond snooping through a few toons burning cooldowns; pretty much all I do anymore. There are some nice improvements in this patch.  More skins for the improved character models.  A way to share the heirloom gear that radically speeds up leveling for alternate toons. Improved heirlooms that now can be used through level 100.

Don’t really care.

I have a 100 for both factions now. I’ve played through both sides of the game, explored most of the garrison buildings, run the LFR for the first raid. I’ll eventually run the LFR for the second raid, and dabble in the PvP before I finally do what I threatened to do in Cataclysm. I’m canceling my subscription to World of Warcraft for the first time in 5 years. I have better things to do with the monthly premium for server access if I’m not going to play the game content; and it has become clear that I’m not.

I did log on and spend eighty thousand gold on heirloom upgrades for the toons that I haven’t leveled to 100, current endgame level. I will make that confession. I have (had) upwards of 400 thousand gold in game across 22+ toons. I think it was a good investment considering what unspent money in a game you aren’t playing is actually worth.

I have the distinct feeling that the game developers are resting on the games popularity, not pushing themselves to actually find the boundaries of gameplay with the new systems and faster internet speeds.  World of Warcraft remains essentially the same game it was more than a decade ago, and I think I’ve played that game long enough.  Time for something new.

World of Warcraft; New & Improved?

Some of the new and improved character models can be viewed on our website. 

WoD Beta Notes 

 I hate that phrase.  Despise it with every fiber of my being.  It is a learned response, because every single time that I’ve heard that phrase there is no noticeable improvement.  Case in point, the new character models for classic characters in World of Warcraft.

I’m in the beta group, so let me just illustrate the changes for you.  This is my Dwarf female Keslingra as she currently looks.  Notice the shape of the face.  The set and shape of the eyes.  The hair has highlights of gold. There is a youthful hopefulness in this face, possibly joyful amusement somewhere behind those eyes.

Can you see what I’m talking about? Have that mental image in your head, even if it’s not all there on the screen?

This is the beta model of the exact same character ported over to Warlords of Draenor. Please note the shape of the face.  The set of the eyes. This woman has been washing a bearded bastard’s clothes for 30 years, and she’s about to visit his snoring ass in the middle of the night and bury his waraxe in his head, so that she can get her first good night of sleep in longer than she can remember.

She’s seated in the exact same chair in the exact same city in the game. Granted, the POV has been lowered, we are now looking dead on at the face, rather than from slightly above; but still, what the hell?  They have added a face button to the barbershop interface, but what about skin color? What about being able to change eye color separate from the face? (important now that the graphic resolution is finer) what if none of the faces emote anything other than bone weary boredom, tired resignation, or at best, fiery hatred?

Someone please explain to me how this face is an improvement over the face she had before?  I will be unable to play any of the characters I’ve ported over and checked, because every single one of them has been altered in a fashion similar to this, where the designers have taken liberty to alter shapes as they see fit, without having an understanding of what we the players were looking for when we selected the faces we had previously.

I started a thread over on the beta forums on this subject (the lifespan of my threads on WoW forums is generally charted in days, not weeks, just FYI) I understand that it’s too late to alter character models now.  We’re stuck with the improvements that aren’t improving anything at this point, I get that.  Can we please, please, please for the love of the light, get a free Appearance Change for our characters?  So that I can justify at least purchasing the expansion pack this time around?

I mean, if I wanted to play tired, dirty, ugly characters, I’d still be playing Skyrim.


Just wanted to add a plug for this thread on the forums as well;

Draenei are still screaming over face 7’s honker and short tails, trolls don’t understand why they all look so freaking angry, gnomes are frightened their eyeballs are going to pop out of their sockets, female humans and dwarves are violently applying regenerous cream from Olay to their faces to get rid of all these lines, the human men are trying to shave their beards off, the male night elves aren’t sure how their upper body is supported with their crazy small waist and wet noodle-like run. Orc women are looking for mascara and stealing the Olay cream from the human and dwarves, and the blood elves are all standing back cackling at the rest of the races with the goblins, pandas, and male worgens while the female worgens mourn the sorrows with the female tauren.

Guys, when there’s a ton of people saying ‘THAT’S NOT MY CHARACTER!’ or numbers and numbers of topics on the same tweaks you can make to the models, it’s time to respond to us. We’re getting frustrated and worried at this point that you haven’t listened to one snippet of our data on the models, and wasn’t that the big selling point for this xpac?

He had me rolling with just those two paragraphs. There is a serious problem with the models in Warlords of Draenor.  The author is also correct that this was Blizzard’s big selling point, the model updates were going to be unbelieveable (as in good) and what I’ve found is that they are indeed unbelieveable.  As in unbelievably bad. Bad enough that I have a hard time telling the April Fool’s joke female Draenei from the one that is in the beta.


In a weird way, this sort of makes up for the insult of changing my beloved characters, and explains it in a properly creepy-assed way;

I have found a face for Keslingra that I find acceptable, and I’m learning to deal with the rest of the changes. Really had hoped for something more than acceptable and closer to the improvement I was promised.

World of Warcraft; Brewfest!

I recently wrote a novella (so the wife says) about my 5 years playing World of Warcraft trying to complete a quest I set for myself.  However, there is (at least) one other thing I did forget to mention. Gameplay in the world is generally pretty predictable, except at certain times of the year when world events occur, or on the odd years when a patch is released.

The first year I played was the release of Wrath of the Lich King, and the world event for Hallow’s End that year was marked by rolling hordes of zombies in all the cities, and mayhem that kept us lows (players who didn’t have characters at max level. Level 70 at that time) from getting anything done.  A world event and a expansion pack release event rolled together, or so it felt at the time.

“What are those weird glowing crates for?”

I remember walking one of my ‘toons into Ironforge and wondering where all the guards were, why was there smoke in the air…?  Suddenly, in the distance, movement in the smoke.  Players? No. Zombies! Every freaking NPC for the city had been turned into zombies by players who had been infected by the undead plague. It’s funny now in retrospect, but I had things to do in the cities, unlike max level characters. I was quite annoyed at the time.  My toons took to sleeping in trees outside the cities until the the patch event had passed.

However, the first world event that took place in World of Warcraft after my subscription started was Brewfest; and Brewfest has remained my favorite event in the game ever since. When it spawned outside of Orgrimmar & Ironforge, I had no idea it was a temporary thing, or that this same event (like many others) would re-occur annually. I feel in love with it.

The reason for this goes something like…

The Wolpertinger

There was a Jackalope over the bar in the local beer hall in the Kansas town I grew up in.  My dad used to love to tell stories about hunting Jackalopes; to which all his friends (who were in on the joke) would lovingly add details.  I can’t speak for the other children, but I was fascinated by this cryptozoological problem.  I would go looking for Jackalopes while wandering the fields near my house.  Unsurprisingly I never did find one; not until I started playing around at Brewfest.  The purpose of Brewfest was to get your character blind drunk; or rather, the program responded (and still does, to some extent) to each beer you drank by making the screen images progressively fuzzier, distorting perspectives into tunnel vision.  Also, after you’ve drank about three strong drinks, invisible creatures started to appear.  Little horned rabbits with wings.  At first I thought I was seeing things.  I really did feel like I was drunk (still do, sometimes. I blame the Meniere’s) and where did those creatures come from?

They were labeled Wild Wolpertinger in the game.  Researching the name, I discovered that Jackalopes and Wolpertingers are related; related by beer.  Wolpertingers are commonly found on display in taverns in the Bavarian region of Germany; and Jackalopes seem to be found in German settled areas of the American Southwest, also to be found in taverns there.  I had discovered a long drinking tradition, the telling of tall tales while indulging in the spirits at the local drinking hole. My father, whose mother was of German descent, was simply carrying on the tradition.

“Hey newb, did you know you can
dismiss your user interface by hitting CTRL-Z?”

The first year I played, you couldn’t catch Wild Wolpertingers, but you could purchase a pet one with tickets  (and your pet is invisible to everyone but you.  Unless they are drunk) You can catch them now, just like you could when the event first started, but that year you couldn’t.  I had to have one, so Tharthurm and I spent some quality hours working at Brewfest to get tickets for the Wolpertinger. Even took some tourist shots with the local guardsmen.

It was the event of Brewfest, combined with this whole new world to explore, that made me fall in love with the game.

It was after getting the pet (the pet that no one can see but me) and having it summoned pretty consistently for months, that I began to identify with the Wolpertinger; after all, it and I were the only consistent things across the various characters I played, and the other players couldn’t see either of us. So I started using it as my avatar across many boards and platforms I post in, using the cryptozoological beast to represent me.  I commissioned a piece of art from an artist I know so that I wouldn’t have to violate Blizzard’s copyright to it’s own game images.  Hers looks better than theirs, anyway.

That is where I am today. Represented on the internet by a cryptid that my dad used to tell great stories about, and that I rediscovered in a game I just happened to be playing because a friend asked for a favor.  If you play WoW and haven’t taken time to get your What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been achievement, You are missing out on one of the more interesting parts of the game.  You should at least try Ram Racing.  Do it now, because Brewfest is here!



First the praise, now the criticism.  Three years ago the designers at Blizzard got lazy and they gave up offering new mugs (the in-game collectable for this event) and at the same time disabled a handy feature of the game for new players.  The old mugs were a useable item, and gave a buff which was useful in game.  Rather than scale the buff for new releases of the game, they simply replaced the real mugs with a magically refilling baby bottle that does nothing.  Bring back the mugs!  Bring back the buffs! (this is true of Hallow’s End candy as well) Update the gear drops for mid-xp and end of xp events, for crying out loud! Make it desirable to do the events, so that people will do them.
The toons don’t get blind drunk killing Dark Irons anymore.  I get it, we want to be sensitive to people who don’t approve of drinking to excess, but it’s a game for crying out loud. I still go around killing everything that moves in the game, and I don’t feel the urge to do that in real life.  I also understand that players become ill watching the drunken graphics. Me too. It would be nice to be able to just kill the visual effect with an easily findable toggle when it gets to be too much.  But that is aside from the point of drinking beer and throwing mugs to down the Dark Irons.  What are we saving the kegs for anyway since they can’t be used to refill mugs? See the first critique.

Finally, let’s admit the game has changed. Pandaren should be top brewers, not Ogres. Ogres make some nasty strong drinks, but Pandaren have turned brewing into a lifestyle.  They should not be relegated to a booth in the corner quietly selling also items that have no bearing on the event itself. None of my Pandaren will even go to the event until they are properly represented as the best brewers on Azeroth.  Call it a protest.  The rest of them will be there, though.

World of Warcraft; Long Quest Completed

Back on September 2, 2008 a good friend of mine asked a favor of me.  Really, it was probably the only favor he ever asked of me, and to me it seemed like such a small thing, I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t help him.  He’d been playing World of Warcraft for a few years at that point, and he was having trouble getting groups together to complete content; not to mention that they were giving away mounts for recruiting friends, and they were really sweet Zhevras.

I had played Blizzard games many times over the years (I would have said I preferred the Real Time Strategy games if you asked me) I liked playing head to head with family, a pastime (and a blog article I’ve been working on) that went back years.  Diablo II was a favorite in the house and when World of Warcraft was announced at the end of Warcraft III I hoped it would be something like that game in execution. The cheapskate that I am refused to even entertain the idea of paying for a game on a monthly basis, so I dismissed it as a possibility even if it was something I might like.

Cheers! The shearing commences.

A few years later, and a lot more time on my hands spent indoors fighting the symptoms of Meniere’s, made the idea of spending a few dollars a month for game access seem like a bargain.  I’d be doing my friend a favor, and I had already asked him to shave my head earlier that year as a symbol of support for his going through chemotherapy again.  A request to join him in a game I secretly wanted to play anyway was easy in comparison.

So we started playing. Almost from the beginning I got off on the wrong foot in the game.  I had no idea that the two factions could not talk to each other or play together. I created Horde toons (a Tauren Warrior & Undead Warlock) on a server he was playing as Alliance (in fact, he only played Alliance) so he had to make new toons to play with me.  My daughter only wanted to play Night Elves (her favorite race from WC3) and she had already created a toon on another server that I just had to join her in playing. Being fond of Rogues from Diablo, I created a NElf Rogue (female, of course.  All rogues are female) to play alongside her druid.  I quickly created a whole slew of NElf characters with the intention of playing all classes as NElf, only to discover that not all classes could be played in all races. That lead to the Gnome mage Brenelbur and his evil warlock twin, but that was when the plan got out of control.

I hatched a scheme to level one toon (character) of each class, and I would do this for both factions, with a genuine attempt to play all races and both sexes for each race with at least one toon.  When I mapped this all out, there were nine classes, which Blizzard expanded to ten with Wrath of the Lich King and eleven with Mists of Pandaria.  There were also fewer races, with Worgen and Goblins being added as playable races in Cataclysm (DraeneiBlood Elves having been added in Burning Crusade, along with Alliance Shaman and Horde Paladins. I started playing at the end of this expansion of the game) so I had to skip a few race/sex combinations.  This was made easier on the alliance side, because I saw no need to play humans in a fantasy game.  I could play that in real life by turning off the computer.

When I started this quest, this scheme of mine, I really thought it would be no sweat to complete.  A few months playing, and all done.  Then the new classes and races were added, and the levels increased, and I began to wonder if I had even been sane when I came up with this crazy idea.

With the announcement of the release of Warlords of Draenor in November 2013, I knew the time to finish this quest of mine was now or never. Ten more levels on 22 toons would probably be more than I was interested in doing, and I really didn’t want to fail. So, earlier today (August 14th, 2014) I finally leveled my twenty-second toon to endgame, level ninety.   A birthday present for myself, and a nice way to close out the favor I started for a dear friend who logged off a few years after we started playing.  I’d like to offer a heartfelt thanks to Bear, wherever he is, for making me take up this silly game. I think it has kept me sane, if this is sanity.



One of the things that has improved over the years I’ve played this game has been the website. The last time I tried to do a toons & servers update, I had to clip photos from screenshots for each toon.  This version may be more boring to read, because I won’t be adding photos for all twenty-two toons, but it will be significantly easier to write. The links for each name will lead to the stat page for each of my toons. Better than clipped art, it is proof that the toon exists and represents an example of how it is set up, and what it looks like currently.
My main Horde toons are still on Terenas, although the server is really a backwater in the game and it limits my ability to play content that is limited to the home server.  Blizzard has been working to combine servers and content, so this might not be a problem much longer. Of course, I could just level new toons on other servers, and that process technically has already begun. However, these are the eleven I count as main Horde;
Blood Knight Trasmog Set

  • OlaventaOrc Shaman (Herbalism, Inscriptionfrom the lowly also-ran who started out as a male with a different name, this toon has graduated into becoming my raider.  Shaman are excellent healers, and when your secondary talent is Elemental (not as much DPS as enhancement, but respectable) you can essentially use the same gear to level as damage & healing and not feel that you are letting anyone down by doing so. Olaventa as a character had a serious crush on Thrall when he was warchief of the horde.  She’s not forgiven him yet for leaving us with Garrosh as a leader. My scribes both wanted the Loremaster title, so they each completed every quest for their faction up to Mists of Pandaria. This toon has also completed all the quests for that Expansion, making her the most played, most experienced toon that I have. 
  • Uroga Orc Hunter (Skinning, Leatherworking) Both my hunters I play just for fun. I collect pets with them, and not much else, although their professions are part of my overall scheme to explore different class/prof combinations.
  • RakudagaTroll Druid (Herbalism, Alchemy) I deleted the character I started with this name and created a new one of the same name (the name fit a Troll better anyway) for the new racial combination of Troll/Druid that was offered in Cataclysm. Druids are my second favorite class after shaman these days, and some of the best tanks in the game.  Still, I don’t tank with them, I take the same minimalist tack with them as with other classes, combining balance and restoration which allows me to double up gear for leveling.  I used to hate male Trolls in game until Mists of Pandaria and Vol’Jin. Now I’m starting to like them.
  • RasmuertaTroll Deathknight (Mining, Blacksmithing) I’ve had a problem motivating myself to play Deathknights after Wrath of the Lich King. I mean, what is their motivation, as characters? “OK, life (or death) goals achieved, now what?” Still, they remain one of my favorite classes, and the only class I’m comfortable tanking with. 
  • TanathBlood Elf Mage (Mining, Jewelcrafting) My only Blood Elf. I just couldn’t get into the story behind the Blood Elves. They remain my least favorite race in the game, weirdly. They are amongst the most frequently played by other players.  Mage is one of my favorite classes, but this mage doesn’t get played very often.  Just enough to get her to level 90.
  • Creavishop Undead Warlock (Tailoring, Enchanting) The third toon I ever made, and still my secondary raider for this server, because he is my enchanter and I’m always looking for materials for his work. Warlocks are liberating to play.  Demon summoners and associated with evil in the lore for the game, they remain essential for any well-rounded raid group. Still making containers for all the toons on the server, and not getting enough gold for his work as far as he is concerned.  His plans to take over the world are taking longer than he thought.
  • Eugennah – Undead Rogue (Mining, EngineeringRogues, which were amongst my most looked-forward-to classes to play, have not turned out to be one of my favorite classes.  Now that locks have been removed from regular game play (no more keyring) their essential role in-game has been left behind. Pick-pocketing isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be, with more and more NPC’s in game reporting back as having no pockets to pick. Bummer. Eugennah hates her bony elbows and knees, and doesn’t like Undercity at all. She took over Engineering from Uroga so I could see how that might assist a Rogue in play. Her survivability in encounters seems better than Eieloris, my other Rogue.
  • RaspalliaTauren Paladin (BlacksmithingJewelcrafting) This toon was created as an experiment testing out the benefits of combining creation professions and their extra-beneficial perks. I also discovered the joy of PvP healing as a Holy Paladin.  There really isn’t a better class to play as healer in a PvP situation, and survivability for this paladin is much better than the other Paladin who combines Blacksmithing and Mining.  Those perks are rumored to be disappearing in the next expansion pack.
  • Tharthurm – Tauren Priest (TailoringAlchemy) Tharthurm was the name of my first toon; but I really wanted my warriors for both factions to be small females, so the Tauren warrior was deleted, and I gave his name and look to the priest that I could make as a Tauren for the first time in Cataclysm. Tauren are my favorite race, in theory.  In practice I don’t like the movements that Blizzard created for the models. I want to like and play them, here’s hoping the improved modeling in Warlords will make that more pleasant. 
  • RastarshaGoblin Warrior (MiningEngineering) The addition of Goblins as a playable race created a quandary and a opportunity for me. I could finally actually have a Goblin engineer and could have a warrior on the horde side that would echo the stature of my alliance warrior. But I had to delete my first toon to do it, and I had to decide on either female or male, since I couldn’t do both. Pigtails decided me, although you can’t see them on this toon.  Goblins, like Gnomes, are amusing.  That is why you play them. 
  • JainrasigPandaren Monk (SkinningLeatherworking) All my monks are Pandas, and all of them are named Jain. There was a Bodhisattva of a similar name, and what Firefly fan can resist naming a character Jayne? RAS is for me. I’ve looked forward to playing as a Panda since I first started playing World of Warcraft, having loved the heroic character that was available in WC3.  They took long enough to give them too us.  The Pandaren lore is some of best World of Warcraft, in my opinion.  I’m going to miss playing Mists of Pandaria come November. 
Muradin server was home for several years, even though I started out playing on Terenas. Because my family and friends were playing Alliance, my toons there were developed much faster than the Horde toons.  We found a welcoming guild on the server named “of the Emerald Dream” and were happy there until one of the raid healers took exception to my allowing my daughter to play the game while she was still drugged from having her wisdom teeth out (of all the things to pick a fight over) so we left and created our own guild, which I still run (on several servers, just not very successfully) even though I’m almost the only player left in the guild, now.  Frosty Wyrm Riders is max level (25) on Muradin, I just don’t raid with that guild.
Eieloris’ image looked
better than Tarashal’s did.
  • Tarashal – Night Elf Druid (Herbalism, Alchemy) This is the toon I keep coming back to. I started out focused in Mists of Pandaria with my Horde toons, determined to level and raid first as Horde with my adopted guild there. Before the year was out I was no longer raiding with them although still in the guild, three different raid teams having formed and dissolved in the process. Raiding in Mists is far harder than any other expansion pack, and this has shown through in the rapid dissolution of formerly sound raiding teams that had lasted through Wrath and Cataclysm. Even the raiding guild that I was part of on this server lost several players we had relied on for years.  Because I had started out with a different guild and faction, this toon did not make it into the raiding group which is most advanced in the content for this expansion.  Still, he has the best gear of any of my toons, and has completed more of the content than any other toon except for Olaventa.
  • Eieloris – Night Elf Rogue (Skinning, Leatherworking) With her fondness for Dwarves, which she deems “Just the right height”, Eieloris still has more ‘backstory’ than any of my other toons.  That only matters to me in the end; still, I really do enjoy playing this toon and would play her more if I hadn’t discovered how much I like to PvP heal as a Paladin.
  • RasputingDraenei Paladin (Mining, Blacksmithing) Also the name of my Monk character in Diablo III, the wife named this toon when I created it, the first in a long line of RAS characters. I really didn’t like Paladins at all until this expansion pack, and it was only when I took the Tauren Paladin into Battlegrounds that I discovered how much fun it was to PvP heal as one.  By that point I had leveled this toon to 90, and he had a hard time getting the gear he needed to match her in PvP. Now that they are almost equal, I really can see a benefit in combining creation professions as I did with her. I’ll have to wait and see what Blizzard does with Professions in the next expansion.  Draenei are, in my opinion, the only good thing introduced in Burning Crusade; I tend to skip that entire area of the game when I level characters (easily achieved by taking up archeology at level 60) but the Draenei move the way the Tauren should move. 
  • RaslindaDraenei Shaman (Mining, Jewelcrafting) I try to remind myself that the game is fantasy when presented with differences between the sexes like are present in the male and female Draenei. Split hooves vs. solid hooves?  Looks more feminine, only represents a million years or so of evolution. She does look good moving, and the action animations for the female Draenei are some of my favorites. 
  • RasmortisWorgen Deathknight (Jewelcrafting, Blacksmithing) Worgen represent the race I’m most ambivalent about. I like the animations, but I never understood why they had to be added to the Alliance, other than as a race to balance out adding Goblins to the Horde. Having said that, adding them gave me an excuse to change Mortis from human, so there went my only human character. I really do like the way he looks in his black PvP armor transmog. If I had more time, I’d play this class more often. 
  • Hellice – Worgen Warlock (TailoringAlchemy) This is actually my second Worgen Warlock named Hellice. I leveled one to 85 for my son at the end of Cataclysm, and gave it to him as a present. I like the name, icy-damnation. Perfect for a warlock. This was the last toon to level to 90, because she had to start from one at the same time as my Pandas, and they were going to be leveled before she was.  Warlocks are just fun. That’s all there is to it. Mind if I suck out your soul and use it as a weapon on you? Doesn’t matter, she’ll do it anyway.  Worgen are damned to start with, that is the nature of their affliction. Why not warlock as well?
  • JuvernaDwarf Hunter (MiningEngineering) Named for Ireland; he, like my Horde hunter just collects pets.  I know, I know, they are great DPS machines in this version of the game.  I don’t care, hunters are solitary. That is why their best friends are animals.
  • Keslingra – Dwarf Priest (Herbalism, Inscription) Just between you and me, this toon I specifically made to resemble the wife, giving her the red hair I know she really keeps hidden under the blonde; and I say that just because when she reads this she’ll be furious and there’s nothing I enjoy more than having her angry at me. This toon taught me the value of playing a priest, which I never expected to enjoy playing. Shadow Priest has finally turned into a DPS specification worthy of the designation, and priest healers are the strongest healers in the game.  Since she is also a scribe, that means I completely every quest with her for the Loremaster title just as I did with Olaventa.  Lots of experience playing this toon. She is the current guild master for Frosty Wyrm Riders
  • BrenelburGnome Mage (Tailoring, Enchanting) This was my fifth toon created (after Tarashal) and I blame/credit him with starting me off on this crazy venture. He wanted to be a NElf and I resisted changing him to one after that race/class combo became available; but it was the frustration of not being able to make NElf mages that set me on the course of approaching the game the way I have. He is my secondary raider on Muradin (enchanting materials, yet again) and the character I play most often after the druid and shaman. Still love the Gnome laugh after all these years.  Joke all you want about Gnome punting; after taking this mage into battlegrounds recently, I have to say that mages have a ridiculous ability to keep other players frozen almost indefinitely. Try punting me when you are frozen in place, you big green monster. I’ll just laugh and blink away.
  • Rasmillia – Gnome Warrior (Mining, Engineering) Watching making of documentaries for films that I’m a fan of, I hear comments like “it was my favorite scene, but it just didn’t make it to the cut” a lot. This toon started out as a male named for one of my favorite SF characters. But he needed to be a she, and she had to have a different name. I should have just duped the name Rastarsha, but I stole Starsha from a guildmate and I didn’t want to go flouncing around her server with her name tacked on to one of my toons; so millia for warrior (Milly for short) never mind that another guild mate now has a toon named Milly.  I think she’ll understand.  I really, really wanted her to have the pink pigtails.  That was a must; that and dual wielding two-handed weapons. I admit it, I am easily amused.
  • Jainrasig – Pandaren Monk (SkinningLeatherworking) Yeah, same class/profession combination as my other Monk,  breaking my changing pattern. I really hadn’t expected to have an eleventh class to have to deal with. When it came down to brass tacks, they both needed to make their own leveling gear, so they both ended up as skinning leatherworkers. The daily quest that is available to Monks makes leveling much faster.  The Monk class itself is quite different from the other classes.  I can’t say I know what I think of it yet; which is too bad, because it will be different soon.  Classes always change with each expansion. 
I will really miss Pandaria, even though I haven’t enjoyed raiding through it very much. Chen Stormstout was my go to hero for Warcraft III.  If I could hire him in a map, he was on my team. His quests in the Valley of the Four Winds are essential for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the lore of Warcraft.  Unfortunately they have taken out the additional quests relating to him that were part of intermediate expansion content; but that is why it is important to play through the game as it is offered, and not as it exists as preserved as part of future content. I do wonder how they will include Garrosh in quest lines that used to rely on him, since he will no longer be the warchief of the horde after this expansion.  A good portion of those quests will have to be truncated, or they will simply be left alone to stick out like sore thumbs calling attention to content that should have been updated but was not.
It has been a fun five plus years playing the game so far. I have been invited to the beta for Warlords of Draenor and have done some minor fiddling with it so far.  I really wanted to hit this milestone before allowing myself to be diverted, though. Quest completed. On to the next one.

Tarashal taking his ease in travel form on the Timeless Isle